buft's Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360) review

with Bad Company you're in good company

 Like a motor car powered by rockets Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is bigger, better, faster and more explosive than its previous incarnation. The battlefield series has always been known for its online multiplayer and with the bad company series Swedish developer Dice brought a single player campaign into the mix with some success.

Bad Company is was very much a Black comedy and bad Company 2 is no different, while the core of the story is of war and strife the mood is lightened by the wonderful story, great voice acting and undeniably charming members of B-company. Little things like the incidental conversations your squad mates have with each other between during lulls in battle and even during the high octane action make all the difference but there are also several key scenes in which the squad will be more sombre and reflective preventing the characters from becoming parodies on cultural stereotypes.

If you have played the first in the series you may be left wondering how the stories are linked as it's never explained in the game, the first level you play serves both as a tutorial and a introduction to the games storyline, taking place during world war 2 you play one of a group of US commandos sent in to extract a Japanese scientist. The mission doesn't go as planned however and that's when the story picks up with the B-company members serving on the Sarge's last tour of duty on a simple support mission inside Russian territory. Needless to say things quickly become more convoluted and you and the rest of the Bad Company will find yourselves in many a tight spot before the end of the campaign.

The single player portion of the game can be completed in around 7-8 hours and during that time you will find yourself in many diverse environments, from the aforementioned snowy mountains to the lush jungles of Bolivia and even a trip out into the desert, even though it is relatively short the game does offers a little replay value in the form of collectible weapons and destructible M-Com stations.

Destruction doesn't stop there however, with Dice's Destruction 2.0 engine under the covers almost everything in the game can be destroyed, while an explosive charge can be used to demolish an entire building gunfire is also able to chip away at the environment, this adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay as both you and the enemy soldiers will constantly have to keep on the move too keep yourself behind cover as the environment changes. This destruction system also affords you a new way to navigate the battlefield for example when your team is pinned down in heavy fire you can blow a hole in a nearby building effectively creating a new path that allows you to flank your attackers.

Of course like any battlefield game, online the game is at its finest pitting 24 players against each other in either teams of 12 or squads of 4, the game has a collection of great game modes from the objective based attack and defend rush games that take place on huge maps right down to the squad death match which pitches 4 teams of 4 against each other on smaller maps.

The game features 4 brilliantly balanced classes and a reward system that unlocks different kit options the more you play, though the reward system does take a little more perseverance than other games in the genre it provides great incentive to continue playing and as the scoring system is set up so that playing as part of the team will help you build your score faster.

The maps for the online modes are the highlight however, it's apparent that great time was spent in balancing them just right as none of the maps is so unfair that it is impossible for one side to win and for every advantageous spot one team has there is a counter spot available to their adversaries.
As of day one however there have been a few problems with the servers and connectivity to the matches has been affected so I would definitely recommend you check around the forums before you buy the game if you plan to play online and are on the fence about picking this up.

The games graphics are beautiful online and off, weapons are rendered realistically and characters, buildings and vehicles all look great. The lighting and particle effects in the game are impressive, from the night time maps with muzzle flash from gunfire lighting the trees to the desert map which is open and vast but rolling sand storms limit your view, each has been done to perfection helping to build immersive environments to play in.

The sound in the game is as good as it gets from the haunting classical score of the first mission to the high tempo drums as the action heats up, effects wise the gunfire, explosions and enemy chatter all blend together nicely. When an explosive round detonates near your position the sound warps and becomes muffled for a short time before returning to normal and the environment makes an impact too for instance in the more open levels the sound will reverberate from everywhere, where as in the dense forest the sounds are more muted.

The game isn't without its problems though in the story mode some of the set pieces feel a little underwhelming especially one of the later ones in the desert which looks like it was rushed into the game. Enemy soldiers have a habit of standing in the open and waiting to get shot while at other times they will attempt to flank your position and keep you pinned down with heavy fire and the inconsistency can really pull you out of the game especially if you have retried the same difficult area several times only too finally make it because the enemy stopped trying. Graphics wise the game has a few blurry textures and odd things can happen when the environment starts getting destroyed like a car that explodes and then dances around though these are rare occurrences.

If you're looking for a shooter that has depth, great offline play and competitive squad based online shooting action then Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is definitely the game for you, if you want to play as a lone wolf the game certainly doesn't punish you for that but you may have a more difficult time and you might want to consider a rental first.

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